Review the Issues Involved in Strategic Planning

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Question: 1.2, Review the issues involved in strategic planning
(((The Author
Paul Stuart Kregor is a Director of the MSI Consultancy Ltd
Article originally publised in Pharmaceutical Marketing, June 2007)))
Every year at about this time or a little earlier, we start the process of ‘strategic’ planning.
The annual planning process, for all its focus on analysis, or template completion, can easily fall into the apparently comfortable tactic of merely updating the activity from last year’s plans. Often, however, what is really needed is a fresh approach which can pay dividends.
Approaches to planning differ, depending upon the attitude and culture of the company involved, which in turn affect the relative importance given to different
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Issues are then identified but there seems to be no real focus on what drives success in local markets, or on what competitors will do and the impact of their actions. This approach can simply lead to ‘more of the same’, making a projection based on the previous year and no real change in approach, with the whole focus being on next year’s revenue. While many companies may not use such an apparently numbers-focused approach they still act in the same way, with the forecast being the key, rather than the rationale behind it.
To overcome the inevitable local variances in both resource and/or experience and to ensure a consistent base for review, many companies utilise a template-led approach . This consists of a pre-defined plan with key headings that can be amplified or contracted, but with certain key elements which must be completed. This option works well as it provides a structured process for analysis, with check questions at each stage. However in some cases we have seen that such an approach can still be very financially focused. Sometimes it does not analyse the brand and company strengths and weaknesses in a meaningful market-centred manner, to enable a market -led SWOT analysis and often there is still not enough competitive focus.
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